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How To Pick The Perfect Running Shoe Part 2

Updated on February 27, 2010

A well-worn pair of shoes can give you a much more accurate reading. Set them on a flat surface like a tabletop and stand behind them, looking for any leaning or canting of the shoe upper in the direction of either pronation [causes inward tilt] or supination [outward tilt]. Sooner or later, if you have a significant tendency to roll the feet inward or outward, it will translate into deformation of the shoe upper.

Once you've done the test, can you confidently order unfamiliar shoes through the mail? Nope. The best way to guarantee that you have the right kind of shoe and one that fits properly is to shop at a specialty running store or sports-shoe emporium that employs well-trained salespeople. The ideal fitter will ask, first, to measure your feet. The human foot changes with age, getting bigger as its ligaments stretch. Be wary if the salesperson seems overly eager to pronounce a perfect fit. It's always good to say, "Can I try the next size up and decide between the two?" The store may not have the next size and thus may be pushing the shoes you have on.

Try on shoes wearing the kind of socks you wear when you run, and if you use orthotics (inserts prescribed by a podiatrist), make sure to put them in the shoes. Allow the width of your index fingernail between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe, about one-third of an inch. The standard advice about shopping late in the day, when your feet are largest, still holds true.

The salesperson should ask to watch you walk and jog in the shoes to make sure he or she has made the right assessment of your foot type. And once you've narrowed your selections to two pairs, it is recommended that you try wearing a shoe from each pair simultaneously: That instantaneous comparison between left and right foot as you jog down the sidewalk or on a treadmill allows you to see which one is superior.

Tips for Smart Shoe Shoppers:

  • Tell the salesperson your price range, good shoes can be had at most price points. Expect to spend a minimum of $80 to $120. But don't assume that quality and protection increase with added expense.
  • Prefer firm to cushy: You're better off with a shoe that's too firm than with one that's too soft.
  • Be leery of screaming bargains. Ask whether the shoes in question are discontinued models and, if so, when they were discontinued: Running shoes get hard and stiff over time, so you don't want a pair that was manufactured two years ago.
  • Make sure the shoe is big enough. American consumers, especially women, tend to think shoes should be fitted much smaller than is optimum, says Richie.
  • Replace your shoes about every 500 miles. If you're heavy, your shoes will break down more rapidly and may need replacing every 300 miles. Those that make the cut are stable, durable, readily available and of good quality.

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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      YIKES! Thank doG that my dyslexia isn't acting up. :) 22 years is vintage! You may have a collector's item on your hands... er... feet. :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      22 years Sir! :)

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Wow! 12 year old runners. I wonder if the smell would knock a buzzard off a manure wagon at 50 yards! JUST KIDDIN'! :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      You won't believe this, I have a pair of running shoes that I purchased in Bangkok in 1988. It is still in good condition and now my sister uses it for her evening walks.

      The brand? I dunno!


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